A Trip to Yi Xing Uncovers Ceramic Masterpieces

Having just finished meeting with my teapot maker in Yi Xing, I am pleased to report that finally, I have received a few of one my favorite teapot designs, the Yi Li Zhu (a single pearl). I fell in love with this teapot during one of my first visits to Yi Xing many years ago. I visited the Yi Xing Teapot Museum and found it in terrible shape, run down and badly needing attention. The lighting was horrible and in some cases not working at all. The teapots on display at the time were dust-covered and the museum showed a lack of care everywhere.

However, nothing can change the fact that some of the masterpieces displayed there are, simply put, Masterpieces! I saw the original work of Master Gu Jing Zhou's interpretation of Yi Li Zhu and I stood there for what seem like hours, just gazing at that pot. The original work is much larger than my modern interpretation. I asked my teapot artist to make the pot smaller and changed the original design of duan ni (tan-color clay) to ping zi (the classic purple-brown color). The teapot pours water like a dream. Like any good teapot, it just feels right in my hand, well balanced and sturdy. Unlike typical lesser teapots where you start to look around to find all the flaws, because this pot felt so right I just held it and felt it rather than moving it around to maybe discover something wrong with it.

I am so happy that after several years, I'm finally in possession of five of these excellent pots. I also have an example of a han bian teapot, which is designed so you can drink directly from the spout. The flat design allows it to fit perfectly in your palm. Sometimes, a tea towel is used to hold the pot to avoid heat from the brewing tea. When you're done, the towel is used to clean up and to wrap and protect the teapot. This is the second sample I've received and I'm happy with the duan ni mixed clay, where clay with different-sized mineral grains is mixed to produce a slightly rough texture. I placed an order for another five of these teapots.

My quick tour of Yi Xing showed me how much things have changed for teapot makers there. Prices have skyrocketed, but for top-tier pot makers, their work is exquisite and the prices well deserved (although as a merchant I gasp at the cost). Also, some of the artwork in Yi Xing figurines is exceptional. I wish I could bring some home so that we could offer them to those who would enjoy them as much as I do, but my shrinking pocketbook is screaming caution, so I will settle for showing you some pictures.